Yesterday, Dominic and I went to the village of Kozhenyky to help harvest potatoes. We've done this before and it's our way of helping a family in the church that owns the home and land there. It's hard work, but we also have fun along the way and they feed us really well.
Lunch Break (red borshch and holubtsi)
They tell us that the village is dying. There are no young people there anymore. They've all moved away. As the older people in the village die, their homes are often just boarded up. We've heard that the village is down to just one cow now as cows are a lot of work to care for.
The road out of the village goes up the hill to the far right.
Dominic burning the dead potato vegetation.
It appears that, unbeknownst to Dominic, he was being stalked by the grim reaper.
Looking around at how difficult life is there, I can understand how young people would want to move away. There is no running water or toilets and most people live off of the animals they raise and the crops they grow. Potatoes are of course the most important crop and the most labor intensive. They are also solely dependent on God's provision of rain for water.
Biggest sunflower ever?
Pumpkins and more.
The potatoes that are harvested must last people until the next year. Nothing goes to waste. The potatoes are sorted and any that are damaged are fed to their animals. Potatoes can also be sold or traded. So as I looked around at other people digging neighboring plots of land, I realized that they were literally digging for their lives.
This woman had been in the field next to us collecting vegetables and some grass for the one remaining cow in the village. She was lugging a full load up the steep hill using an old baby carriage.